Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sexy Kowa Six

Sexy Kowa Six
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

For some time I have wanted a medium format SLR with a 6x6 cm format with the ergonomics of a Hasselblad, not the Kiev 60 tank that I have had for a number of years. Last year, Marjorie saw a Hasselblad 501CM at Big George's and with some trading, and a generous discount, she soon was the owner of one of the best systems available. I, being cheap, or at least bargain-oriented, wanted a similar camera, but with affordable lenses. I love twin-lens reflex cameras, but they can be fiddly, and hard to find the appropriate filters, etc. In addition, they generally suck at doing close-ups.

So, even though I have a Mamiya 645E, and Pentax 6x7, I really wanted a better square format camera to replace the Kiev 60. My obvious choice, going the non-Hasselblad route, would have been a Bronica SQ series. Expandable, reliable system with different backs, prisms, etc. Not too expensive, either. I looked at KEH and saw I could put a kit together for less than $400.

I also saw how some people really liked the Kowa Six and Kowa 66 cameras. Their relative simplicity, nice ergonomics, well-regarded optics, and beauty intrigued me. Then, I saw one on ebay with no bids for $149.00! I put on a bid, and fully expected to be outbid. There were no other bidders. Within a few days, I had the camera in my hands, complete with a manual (yay!) and lens cap.

The film spools through inside like a Rolleiflex, as the back is not detachable. But it also allows one to use 220 and 120. Great option!
I borrowed Marjorie's Hasselblad strap, and took the camera out yesterday. It was bitterly cold when the wind was blowing. The waist-level viewfinder and beefy controls allowed me to use the camera with golves on and not frost up the viewfinder. Wonderful backwards images appeared in my ground-glass screen. I shot a roll of Tri-X that came with the camera.

frieze demolition

Not bad. I love it already. Now I am selling my Kiev 60 on ebay. Anyone need a camera that will stop a bullet?


Mike Skiera said...

Did you ever find lenses for the Kowa Six?

Mike Skiera said...

Did you ever find any lenses for your Kowa Six? I'm having trouble finding any that are under 4 or 500 bucks.

Mark O'Brien said...

I sold by Kowa Six about 5 years ago, and as far as I know, the additional lenses are hard to come by. Good luck!

Spacer Conrad said...

I got an awesome deal on my kit. While it doesn't have any of the more rare glass, I do have the 55, 85, and 150 covered pretty well.

There's also a certain retro pleasantness about taking photos with the SIX that I don't even get out of the Bronica.